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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Report: Las Vegas Sands stops international money transfers for high-end patrons

26 January 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Nevada's top gaming regulator said Friday his agency was aware of changes Las Vegas Sands Corp. implemented to its compliance procedures and expected other companies, both inside and outside the gaming industry, would take similar steps.

Las Vegas Sands, which operates casinos in Macau and Singapore, as well as The Venetian and Palazzo resorts on the Strip, halted the execution of international money transfers for its high-end customers, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The moves came as the casino operator faces scrutiny from U.S. and international regulators, people familiar with the matter told the newspaper.

Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts, Limited are both being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

A spokesman for Las Vegas Sands on Friday declined comment on the Wall Street Journal story.

Nevada State Gaming Control Board Gaming Commission Chairman A.G. Burnett said the casino operator shared the various changes it had made with the regulatory agency.

"It's common practice to let us know about changes to compliance procedures," Burnett said. "It didn't take us by surprise. Personally, I think companies in all industries are ramping up their internal procedures."

Burnett said the Justice Department is investigating other companies and businesses for potential violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, not just the gaming industry.

"It seems to be part of a nationwide movement," Burnett said.

Las Vegas Sands is the subject of a money-laundering probe from U.S. authorities, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal.

In addition, U.S. anti-money-laundering regulators are examining the casino industry and considering proposing stricter rules, according to Treasury Department officials.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Las Vegas Sands has recently hired three former FBI agents to strengthen anti-money-laundering efforts and improve background checks the company does on VIP customers and junket operators.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Las Vegas Sands has been in talks with U.S. authorities to resolve an inquiry into whether the company failed to alert officials about suspicious transactions of two high-end customers at The Venetian and Palazzo.

A Las Vegas Sands spokesman told the Wall Street Journal, "We have and will continue to build and enhance the best compliance processes in the business because we are leaders and good corporate citizens."